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SanDisk launches new Ultra II SSD drives

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August 20, 2014

SanDisk said this morning that it is launching a new Ultra II solid state drive (SSD) for retrofitting to PCs that uses lower cost 3-bits-per-cell NAND technology.

TLC or 3 bits per cell flash stores 50 percent more data in each cell than MLC (2 bits per cell) and is cheaper to make on a cost/bit basis.

However, the number of times TLC flash can be rewritten and the P/E cycle count is lower than MLC, typically being measured in the hundreds of cycles instead of thousands.

Of course, that has restricted its use in business flash applications, up until today. The Ultra II is an update on SanDisk's Ultra product, which was first announced in July 2011, and radically increases the performance and capacity.

The original product had 60 GB, 120 GB and 240 GB capacity points, whereas the new one starts at 120 GB and passes through 240 GB and 480 GB models, up to a 960 GB high point.

The original device did sequential reads up to 280 MB per second and sequential writes up to 270MB per second. Ultra II blows these numbers away with reads up to 550 MB/sec and writes to 500 MB/sec.

Random performance is up to 99,000 read IOPS and 83,000 write IOPS. It's helped by the so-called nCache 2.0, which sets aside a portion of the flash to run in faster SLC mode and so speed things up even more.

The interface has been speeded up too, from 3 Gbit/s SATA to 6 Gbit/s. SanDisk appears to have been able to lengthen this TLC product's endurance because it is offering a three-year warranty.

There is a 1.75 million hour MTBF rating on the new products but no number for total TB written or full drive writes over the life of the drive, and this leads us to think that the endurance may be inferior to MLC SSDs, although we could not confirm this.

The new drives have shock resistance features SanDisk says, making them more physically robust.

It's instructive to compare this SSD to AMD's Radeon R7 SSD announced yesterday, which is also aimed at the PC/notebook disk drive replacement market and has Acronis True Image cloning software in it.

That device tops out at 480 GB, has the same sequential read/write numbers but slightly better random IOPS with 100,000 to 90,000 read/write IOPS.

It also features a four-year warranty and a 42.7 TB written endurance rating from its 19 nm Toshiba MLC NAND and OCZ Barefoot controller.

Both SanDisk and Toshiba are flash foundry partners, so the 19 nm flash used in these two SSDs are related.

AMD Radeon R7 pricing is $100 for a 120 GB entry-level R7, $164 for 240 GB and $299 for a 480 GB drive.

Ultra II MSRP pricing is $79.99 for 120 GB, $114.99 for 240 GB, $219.99 for 480 GB and $429.99 for 960 GB. That's cheaper than AMD's Radeon but with Radeon you get a 4-year warranty and encryption built-in.

SanDisk's new SSD will be available through SanDisk's sales channels sometime in September. We'll keep you posted.

In other IT news

Postgre SQL vendor EnterpriseDB has launched a turnkey development environment designed to make it easier for coders to build applications using Postgre's NoSQL capabilities.

The new tool is free. The open source PostgreSQL project has been adding NoSQL-like features for the past couple of versions, most notably support for the JavaScript-friendly JSON data format and the JSONB binary storage format.

With its new Postgres Extended Datatype Developer Kit (PGXDK), EnterpriseDB aims to provide developers with a complete, cloud-hosted coding environment with all of the key components required to use PostgreSQL's NoSQL tools already enabled and configured.

"Application developers and programmers need solutions that help them work faster and this Amazon AMI-based environment means that they get up and running faster and have a much more powerful foundation to work on," said Marc Linster, EnterpriseDB's vice president of products and services.

PGXDK is available as a free instance on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and it bundles PostgreSQL 9.4 beta, a webserver, and preinstalled versions of Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Node.js, and Python to make it easy to get developers building web apps using PostgreSQL and a variety of other popular tools.

According to EnterpriseDB, PostgreSQL is often a superior choice for businesses than so-called pure NoSQL products like MongoDB or CouchBase because it offers greater flexibility in the kind of workloads it supports, while also allowing organizations to practice the kind of conventional data management they're accustomed to using with SQL databases.

The company cites research from Gartner indicating that by 2017, half of all data stored in pure NoSQL databases will be damaging to the business due to a lack of applied information governance policies and programs.

That opinion should come as no surprise, since PostgreSQL is EnterpriseDB's bread and butter. The company's flagship product, Postgres Plus Advanced Server, is an enterprise-tuned distribution of PostgreSQL with an additional, proprietary layer that provides Oracle compatibility, among other features.

EnterpriseDB also provides commercial consulting, installation support, training, and other services around PostgreSQL and products derived from it.

From where EnterpriseDB sits right now, the more people using PostgreSQL – developers and companies – the better.

The company says it plans its next major update to PGXDK to come in the fall, when it will release a version with integrated support for PL/V8, which allows developers to write database queries in JavaScript.

In other IT news

Violin Memory said today that it has repaired a hole in its data management feature set by adding deduplication and compression features to its Concerto memory array controller application.

The fix will enable it to offer lower effective cost per gigabyte than before and will also strengthen its competitive advantage against other all-flash array vendors such as EMX XtremIO, IBM FlashSystem and Pure Storage.

Overall, the Concerto 2200 Data Reduction appliance is a solution that enhances the Violin 6000 or 7000 all-flash arrays to support NFS environments.

The 2200 is a high-availability dual-controller system connecting to Violin's all-flash arrays by Fibre Channel and to hosts by Ethernet.

It can enhance up to four LUNs on existing or new Violin All Flash Arrays with data reduction technology to improve economics in NFS environments.

Inline deduplication and compression are available on the Concerto 2200 and provide up to 672 TB of usable storage at a data reduction rate of 6 to 1.

And deduplication can be easily controlled, not needing to be always-on. Eric Herzog, Violin's CMO said-- “We see rivals who offer always on deduplication and compression, but we know that, depending on the customers’ workloads, performance may suffer as a result of the ‘always on’ approach.”

Always-on deduplication and compression services can lower Violin flash arrays' performance.

The Concerto 2200 array delivers granular inline deduplication and compression with NFS ingest capabilities and is initially targeted at Virtual Desktop (VDI) and Virtual Server (VSI) infrastructure.

A dashboard provides information on data reduction rates in order that customers can see the effective rate of deduplication on their workload, and use that information to remove shares from deduplication, or add additional similar workloads that will benefit from data reduction.

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We now have the Concerto 7000 management appliance for Violin's all-flash arrays and this additional Concerto 2200 dedupe system for NFS file dedupe and compression.

Violin data reduction services for NFS environments on the Concerto 2200 solution are available now. See them at VMworld USA 2014, August 24 to 27 at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco, CA.

Deduplication and compression for block storage are expected to follow in early 2015, Violin told us this morning.

In other IT news

Apple's recent decision to store user data in China is at odds with the IT community, most notably Google, that likes to keep data *out* of China due to censorship and privacy concerns.

Apple was quick to point out that its decision only affects its Chinese users, but is still being viewed as bizarre by some observers. Apple has started to store some Chinese users' personal data on servers in China owned by China Telecom, Reuters reported on Friday.

Apple said in a statement that China Telecom, the country's third-largest wireless carrier, has been added to the company's list of data center providers.

Apple said the move was made to improve its iCloud service, which lets users store and access photos, music, and other personal data from multiple devices.

With data stored physically closer to its iCloud users, it can be delivered more quickly and reliably, Apple added.

For its part, in 2010, Google had a falling out of sorts with China over censoring search results that eventually led to the internet giant moving its servers to Hong Kong.

On almost any given day, China continues to be an epicenter of controversy over user data. The country has been charged with hacking foreign governments and corporate servers to steal information.

And China is also very notorious for wanting user data stored in its borders. The Chinese government claims it's part of its rules and regulations, but critics have said it gives China easy access to people's personal information, among other things.

Source: SanDisk Inc.

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